June 6, 2020

Public Libraries: “Independent Library Report for England” Published Today

The full text report is embedded below. It was published by the UK Department for Culture, Media & Sport and the Department for Communities and Local Government

Coverage of Report

From the BBC

Public libraries in England are “at a crossroads” and must adapt if they are to survive, an independent report into the future of the service has said.

It suggests they need to emulate coffee shops, by offering free wifi, sofas, toilets and hot drinks.

It also calls for a library taskforce and a national digital library network to boost library standards in England.

Report author William Sieghart said libraries were a “vital lifeline” for people, but are in a state of crisis.

[Clip]

peaking to the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme, publisher and philanthropist Mr Sieghart warned of the impact of future spending cuts on the provision and quality of services.

“We’re at a critical moment now are we’re facing a few more years of austerity ahead of us, and many library services across the country have been whittled down as far as they can probably go,” he said.

He underlined the importance of libraries in communities, saying 35% of the population use them regularly, rising to 50% in the poorest areas.

Audio

From BBC Radio 4 (Segment Begins at 1:19:20)

More than 300 libraries have closed since 2011 and we’re on the brink of losing many more according to a report for the government on the country’s libraries. It was written by the publisher and philanthropist William Sieghart. He says libraries should become more like coffee shops with Wi-Fi, sofas and hot drinks. We speak to William Sieghart and Mark Taylor, who’s from the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals.

From The Guardian

William Sieghart’s Independent Library Report for England, published today, urges “a reinvigoration of the library network”, calling on Westminster to provide funding so local authorities can roll out Wi-Fi to every public library in England as part of a new national digital resource. The provision of Wi-Fi, it says, is essential, with its lack of availability in some libraries creating “a barrier to the public using its facilities, especially amongst the younger generation”.

“By not providing Wi-Fi and high-quality computer facilities, libraries often present a negative image of being old fashioned places that have little relevance in today’s society,” says the report, which calls for the Wi-Fi to be delivered “in a comfortable, retail-standard environment, with the usual amenities of coffee, sofas and toilets”.

Libraries minister Ed Vaizey responded by announcing that he had created a new task force to help develop the library service in England, as an “immediate first step” to implementing the report’s suggestions. There was no mention of extra funding in his statement.

The report is divided into the following chapters:

  • Digital library network
  • Library taskforce
  • Wider government initiatives
  • E-lending
  • Professional development
  • Volunteers and community-led libraries
  • Role of local government
  • Case studies

Reaction

Independent Library Report

Hat Tip: Matt R. Weaver

Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

Share